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Breathing problem symptoms

1-minute read

A sign of serious shortness of breath is not being able to speak in sentences. If you are currently experiencing this, call triple zero (000) immediately and ask for an ambulance.

Call triple zero (000) for an ambulance if you feel short of breath and also:

  • have pains in your chest, arm or jaw
  • feel faint or sick.

Make an appointment to see your doctor or consider going to an emergency department if, as well as being out of breath, you:

  • have swollen feet or ankles
  • feel more short of breath when you lie down
  • have fever, chills and a cough
  • have blue lips or fingertips
  • make noises when you breathe
  • have to put a lot of effort into breathing
  • are getting worse.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your breathing problems, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).



Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2017

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